Some of us live with varying degrees of awareness of the actual power that Facebook wields, and that’s Facebook’s power is really the power of Mark Zuckerberg.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been called to task more and more in recent years for aiding and abetting the crumbling of privacy in other parts of the world where out and open authoritarian regimes are law of the land. Not so much in the United States, that is until the 2016 election.
The Clintons have tried every excuse in the book to explain away their loss, but the one that sticks the most is “The Russians.” It works because it just sounds big, bad, and scary. Russian hackers sitting in dark sparsely furnished apartments in Moscow “hacking” the American election at the behest of Vladimir Putin who is controlling Donald Trump.
Facebook has successfully become the top layer of the internet. It is the portal through which most people get to other places on the internet. This means that most of the political debate is happening under Mark Zuckerberg’s watch.
When simply blaming Russians was failing, the left started grasping for straws, and digital sleuths found that some Russian accounts bought ads on Facebook and ran them in order to cause confusion among liberals and push people to vote for Trump.
Zuckerberg was basically forced to entertain this idea momentarily, then decided that he and his business weren’t going to be pawns in a failing narrative. He recently released a full statement detailing why Russian bought Facebook ads had any effect whatsoever on the outcome of the election.
“I want to respond to President Trump’s tweet this morning claiming Facebook has always been against him. Every day I work to bring people together and build a community for everyone. We hope to give all people a voice and create a platform for all ideas. Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like. The facts suggest the greatest role Facebook played in the 2016 election was different from what most are saying: – More people had a voice in this election than ever before. There were billions of interactions discussing the issues that may have never happened offline. Every topic was discussed, not just what the media covered. – This was the first US election where the internet was a primary way candidates communicated. Every candidate had a Facebook page to communicate directly with tens of millions of followers every day. – Campaigns spent hundreds of millions advertising online to get their messages out even further. That’s 1000x more than any problematic ads we’ve found. – We ran “get out the vote” efforts that helped as many as 2 million people register to vote. To put that in perspective, that’s bigger than the get out the vote efforts of the Trump and Clinton campaigns put together. That’s a big deal. After the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea. Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it. This is too important an issue to be dismissive. But the data we have has always shown that our broader impact — from giving people a voice to enabling candidates to communicate directly to helping millions of people vote — played a far bigger role in this election. We will continue to work to build a community for all people. We will do our part to defend against nation states attempting to spread misinformation and subvert elections. We’ll keep working to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, and to ensure our community is a platform for all ideas and force for good in democracy.”
Two big things stand out.
“Campaigns spent hundreds of millions advertising online to get their messages out even further. That’s 1000x more than any problematic ads we’ve found.”
What the “Russians” allegedly spent pales in comparison to the financial juggernaut that is American politics. Since dollars are the only real thing to count by. The amount of money spent in “problematic ads” is like buying a stick of gum, compared to buying a Rolls-Royce, it’s completely inconsequential.
Secondly, Zuckerberg knows how to campaign better than both sides.
“We ran “get out the vote” efforts that helped as many as 2 million people register to vote. To put that in perspective, that’s bigger than the get out the vote efforts of the Trump and Clinton campaigns put together. That’s a big deal”
It is a big deal. You know that thing where you always assume the loudest talkers are the loudest because they know the most, right up until someone else comes along and shuts them up because THEY know the most?
That’s just what happened in this statement.
If you want to be significant in social in the future. You have to learn how to dominate on Facebook. The Russians didn’t know how, Trump didn’t know how, and Hillary certainly didn’t know how.